Believe it or not, many of my clients are reaching their health goals even more quickly during these challenging times … everyone wants to get outside for walks, there are fewer social events, more people are cooking at home than eating from restaurants (which can be so impactful, even if you’re ordering the “healthier” items at restaurants!). But, there’s one sticking point that I hear over and over again … while working from home, and with increased stress, many people are finding it super hard to stop mindless snacking.
Hey, I hear you. I’m definitely someone who can plow through an entire (10-serving) bag of popcorn or trail mix without noticing, or even with noticing if I’m super stressed. And before I implemented these tips, I would do so regularly. But these 5 tips have helped me stop mindless snacking (or, at least, minimize it!), and I hope they’ll help you, too!
- NOOB Rule. This is one of my favorite all-time rules, for myself and my clients: Nothing Out Of (the) Bag. It’s simply impossible to gauge how much we are eating when we keep reaching into a non-translucent bag. Handful after handful, crunch after crunch … it’s certainly fun in the moment, but the crave-able nature of most snacks might leave us feeling bloated, fatigued, or uncomfortable later on. I never want to feel this way, so I never eat anything straight from the bag. I simply pour out a portion (be as specific as you want – I usually eyeball it) onto a napkin or plate, and eat from there. There’s always more available if I still feel truly hungry after the first serving, but usually I will find myself satisfied enough with what I’ve portioned out initially.
- Pre-portion tricky snacks. I have many clients who portion snacks into individual portions as soon as they enter the house. I love my Stasher bags, or you could use mason jars, ziplock bags, or Tupperware. Having things like nuts, crackers, or chips in individual portions not only helps with portion control, but also makes it more convenient! And let’s face it, could you go back and grab another bag? Of course! But we’re just making it a bit more intentional – you’ll have to stand up, go to the pantry, and make the decision to grab another one.
- Use a certain cup or dish. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that I use Kevin as a funny example more often than a role model. But, most of the time, I’m just giving him a hard time – he’s actually quite healthy overall (aside from those Friday nights!). One of his habits that I really admire is using a (very small) container every time he eats more crave-able snacks. For example, he loves honey roasted peanuts, and he has a teeny cup that he uses as a portion for these every time. I don’t think he has eaten nuts out of the jar even one time! To do this at home, find a cup or dish that holds a suitable portion of whatever snack you’re eating regularly. Keep the cup or dish right by the snack so you remember!
- Choose veggies first. Any excuse to hype up my veggies! One of the main reasons I have a veggie pack every day as my first snack, is that it fills me up and prevents over eating of more calorically-dense and nutrient-poor snacks later on. The veggie pack also gives me energy, makes me feel proud of my health decisions, and is great for my long-term health and immunity. Want to join me in committing to have a veggie pack as your first snack of every day?
- Make sure you’re getting enough protein, fat, and fiber in your regular meals. If you’re feeling physically hungry and find it hard to limit snacking, you might be missing enough protein, fat, and fiber for your activity levels. Check your meals, and make sure you’re nourishing your body!
- If all else fails, buy mindfully. Most of the time, I prefer to change mentality and behavior so that I can keep whatever I want on hand without overdoing it. But there are a few things (particularly, sweet cereal and trail mix from the bulk bins!) that I just don’t buy anymore. It simply requires too much willpower for me to limit myself, and often leads to me overdoing it and feeling physically not great. So, I just don’t buy them. Similarly, if I know I have a big task looming and just want that “I ate the whole package” feeling, I’ll buy things like Bare carrot chips (… yes, they’re expensive!), Bare beet chips, dry roasted edamame, or Lesser Evil individual packs.
Now it’s your turn … Do you find yourself snacking mindlessly these days? What’s one tip that helps you stop mindless snacking?